Moo Music is a pre school music opportunity now available nationally. Opportunity Plus spoke to ideas man Ant Parker and franchisee Ali Hider to find out about their experiences of self-employment and setting up a business.
How did Moo Music get started?
Ant: We decided to create Moo Music as a business opportunity when my wife Jess and I were bringing up our two daughters, Hannah and Eve. We noticed a distinct lack of good quality and wholesome children’s music. Being musicians ourselves we eventually had enough of the poor quality and cheaply recorded children’s songs and commissioned a professional children’s songwriter to write and record a series of songs.
The brief was that they had to be positive, uplifting, fun and educational. They also had to be recorded properly with real instruments, lots of vocal harmonies and most importantly… adults had to enjoy the listening experience as well as the children! It didn’t take long to realise that these songs needed sharing and that other parents in the area were crying out for something similar.
Having said that the aim of Moo Music is not only to give 0 to 5 year olds some fantastic experiences with music but to give young mums the opportunity to start and run a flexible business when their own children start school.
Ali: Ant is my brother and he had the idea a long time ago. He created Moo Music over time but then needed someone to actually put the sessions and ideas into practice, so that’s where I came in. I have always worked with children in various settings from private homes to nurseries/schools and I have a huge passion for music so this suited me perfectly!
What is your role within the business?
Ant: I do the general admin for the business – accounts – sales – licensing – marketing – business help – franchisee motivation – stock ordering etc. Jess does the packing up and sending of stock and also helps with the ‘help and support’ for the franchisees.
Ali: I am primarily a franchisee of the business but I also act as an advisor and trainer for the new franchisees. This involves people coming to observe my sessions and question/answer forums. I also attend festivals and other events to promote Moo Music. We are hoping to do a Moo Music live event in the city with a live band! Very exciting…
How have you gone about marketing the business?
Ant: Moo Music has only been available nationally since January this year. Before that it was only available to friends and friends of friends etc.
Since launching nationally we use Google ‘Pay Per Click’ and all of our sales so far have come from this. I have also taken out a year’s advertising with www.femalefranchise.co.uk which has brought is a few leads but no sales yet. I do have a mail-out scheduled with them in June so that should see the best results.
I will also start Facebook Ads soon. The beauty of Google PPC and Facebook is that you can market to a very tight potential customer base and only pay pence if they click on the links. The Google PPC takes them to the following video www.letsmakemoomusic.co.uk and if they are interested enough to carry on and watch the second video we have their email address so can engage in a conversation.
Ali: I market the business in a variety of ways including ads in local magazines and newspapers. House to house leaflet dropping, Moo Music magnets all over my car! Leaflets in school/nursery book bags also notice boards, however I have to say that “word of mouth” is the most effective. I started with two children in a small hall and a year on I have 90 children over 9 sessions!
What are the benefits of being self-employed?
Ant: Flexibility and a sense of worth!
Ali: I can work the business around my family easily and other projects that I’m involved in, in the local community. It’s is extremely satisfying to see something grow so rapidly and successfully.
What personal qualities would you say are needed for self-employment?
Ant: Be strong minded and believe in yourself. Be nice to people. Remember that no one knows your business better than you do or will ever be as bothered about it as you.
Ali: I would say you need to be hard working, reliable, focused, patient, approachable and fun! I have also had to learn to be a bit more assertive which has been quite hard at times when I’m not naturally like that.
What advice would you give to someone considering self-employment?
Ant: It definitely gives you flexibility but it will be hard work. It’s very hard to ‘switch off’ mentally even if you have a separate workspace. Most people will advise you not to… but you’ll find these people are the ones stuck in their day jobs earning money for someone else! If you have a dream… Go for it!
Ali: I would say get the right people around you to support you and who understand your vision. Find others who are in a similar position. Network!
What are your plans for the future of the business?
Ant: We’d like to get Moo Music spread as far around the UK as possible and are aiming for 100 separate areas. We have 10 so far.
Ali: I have 3 postcodes to work in and as the business continues to grow, I plan to take on freelance staff to run sessions for me so I can concentrate on expanding the business. However, as long as I am able to, I want to be running the sessions as that’s really where my heart is. Maybe I will need to employ an admin person too!
You can find out more about Moo Music by visiting their website http://www.moo-music.co.uk and following them on Facebook and Twitter.